Spires risks loss of print product due to low funding

Leigh Brosof | Contributing Reporter

Spires literary and arts magazine faces the possibility of being shut down due to lack of funding.

While the literary magazine requested $3,645 for its spring issue, Student Union Treasury granted the magazine only $2,139, which Spires leaders say may not be sufficient for them to print.

Last semester, Spires published 450 copies after Treasury allocated them $2,800 to cover printing costs. Senior and Spires treasurer Aiko Krishna estimated that the money currently allocated to the organization would fund around 250 copies.

But because ordering fewer issues overall makes each issue more expensive to print, other group members say the publication may ultimately be in danger.

“I don’t think we can print at all,” junior Eric Hintikka, member and past editor-in-chief of Spires, said. “Last semester, we were barely able to print with the funding we got, and that was after a lot of negotiating.”

Printing 600 copies would cost $3,228 while 500 copies of the magazine would cost $3,019—about $0.66 or 12 percent more per issue.

The group found out on Sunday that its initial re-appeal for additional printing funds was rejected, webmaster Peter Jones said.

Spires has had difficulty applying for funds in the past as well.

According to Krishna, last year’s fall issue was published late, so it looked like the organization had not used any of its fall funding when the spring budget was under consideration. Consequently, the group did not receive spring funding and had to split one semester’s funding over two.

“In our budget history, it looks like we didn’t spend much…but in reality, we were very low on funding. We had to negotiate with the printing place, and we had to lower the [paper] quality,” she said.

Krishna said she suspects the artificially low numbers in the group’s funding history influenced this semester’s funding cut.

“I know SU has a habit of just looking at past [funding] histories and just allocating whatever they see. And so I think that’s what happened…they just allocated what they thought we were going to use again,” she said.

Sophomore Nick Palermo, chair of SU’s Budget Committee, said the funding decision was taken in view of campus media as a whole.

“For the last two-three semesters prior to this fall one, the University was expanding the amount of magazine racks across campus, so groups were asking for more funding due to this expansion,” Palermo said. “Now that the expansion’s over, we expected to see costs for these groups go down, but instead we saw a lot of publications asking for more. Generally, we want to fund the ones with more readership and ones that actively seek to distribute.”

He added that they can appeal to the vice president of finance for any amount up to $1000 without having to go through the regular appeals process.

The intercollegiate arts and literary magazine has been on campus since 1994 and was once present on the campuses of Yeshiva University, Tulane University, Columbia University and DePaul University, with Washington University as the presiding—and only surviving—chapter.

Costs besides printing, like mailing to contributors at other institutions, have not been funded.

“It’s frustrating. We get submissions from all over the country,” Hintikka said. “If someone gets published, they should be able to see the magazine. However, Treasury has shut down our request [for covering mailing costs] semester after semester after semester. We paid out of pocket last semester. They don’t understand why it’s so critical.”

Members of the magazine plan to re-appeal for more funds and hope that the situation is merely the result of miscommunication between Spires and Treasury.

If the appeal is not granted, Krishna said the magazine would likely continue to publish at a dramatically reduced volume.

“We don’t have a choice. If we don’t use any of the money, they’ll never fund us again,” she said.

Though a PDF version of the magazine is also available for free online, Krishna said a switch to digital-only is not something the group has seriously considered.

“As writers, writers in general have a thing against just digitizing everything. Also, we publish artwork too,” she said.

Current junior and editor-in-chief Cassie Snyder declined to comment.

“It does seem amazing that SU would prevent the only literary magazine on campus from printing. Right now, the printed word needs as much support it can get,” Jones said.

With additional reporting by Divya Kumar and Sadie Smeck.

  • Anonymous

    I find it really interesting that Spires skipped their BAT interview today with the Budget Committee of Student Union. For those who don’t know, BAT interviews are in person interviews that a member of the Budget Committee conducts with every Category I group so that they can get a deeper and more fundamental understanding of the complexities of that groups needs.